Tag Archives: upcoming shows

The State of the Gallery: March 2018

As regular readers might note, you didn’t get a state of the gallery update for February, mostly due to gallery-related distractions. Of course, February also didn’t get a full moon falling anywhere within it, either, which just meant one more good thing about March. Considering how fast March is moving, sliding through February was probably for the best.

As far as past and future events are concerned, February’s Date Night event was a mixed bag. The event itself was very successful, but as is the normal state of affairs with local weather, Date Night coincided with a nasty ice storm spreading through the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex that kept a lot of potential participants off the roads, and encouraged a lot of those who attended to leave early before the roads were impassable. This just means having to hold more events and showings during more clement conditions. This leads to:

Numero uno, things on the site are going to be extremely quiet through the end of next week, all due to the first external Triffid Ranch show of the year: All-Con in Addison. As in previous years, All-Con is a four-day show, running from Thursday to Sunday, with Thursday offering “try before you buy a weekend pass” free admission all day Thursday. Combine this with the already huge spring break contingent, and everyone is VERY glad the convention is running at a new, larger, and much more conveniently located hotel. Easy access to the hotel via DART buses, a wide range of restaurants within walking distance, a tremendous lineup of lectures and workshops…my only regret is that All-Con has that many activities scheduled through the weekend, but getting out from behind the table is pretty much an impossibility. This, of course, is a good thing.

Numero two-o, the next big show is seven weeks later, and if Texas Frightmare Weekend didn’t already exceed everyone’s expectations every year, people might be surprised to hear about plans for the next Triffid Ranch booth in May. Let’s just say that when running a booth in a convention already so packed that the convention announced that it has no more room for further guests, and that the host hotel has been booked solid since last year and attendees spill into FOUR more overflow hotels, getting away with a merely average display is unacceptable. In addition, not only is this the tenth Frightmare Weekend with a Triffid Ranch booth, but the end of the show falls on the tenth anniversary of the first-ever Triffid Ranch show, at the late and much-missed CAPE comic event off Lemmon Avenue in 2008. This, of course, demands a suitable anniversary celebration, so let’s see if everyone can pull it off.

Numero three-o: in between these two, don’t assume that the intervening six weeks will just be full of the usual panic about potting, casting, gluing, and painting, along with the usual snot-bubble crying of “I suck! I suck! I wanna go back to the mall!” in the corner. Since last year’s move preempted plans for a 2017 event, the Triffid Ranch proudly announces a return of a wildly popular event from the old ArtWalk and presents the Second Annual Manchester United Flower Show on April 6 and 7 from 6:00 to 10:00. Yes, it coincides with all sorts of other events in the Dallas area, including the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, but that happens all through the city in the weeks before the weather really heats up. Besides, where else are you going to go in the Dallas area to view carnivorous plant blooms and bracts and the plants that produce them?

Oh, to close up, and for the barest hint of what else to expect at the Manchester United Flower Show, here’s a sample of the centerpiece to a new enclosure:

Yes, this is a Cryolophosaurus skull, so anyone familiar with previous discussions on my fascination with the flora of pre-Pliocene Antarctica has an idea of what to expect. It and other enclosures premiere in April, so make plans to see the final enclosure after it’s planted and ready. See you then.

The Hour That Stretches

Whew. October 13. Nearly four months since the soft opening of the gallery, and now it’s showtime. I could go on about experiments with new materials not working out the way they were expected, or whole enclosures being held up based on how one component finished, or the simple fact that paint takes at least six times much time to dry as expected, but you know what? The work speaks for itself, and it all goes live this weekend. Relics: A Carnivorous Plant Enclosure Exhibition starts at 6:00 CST on Friday, October 13 until midnight, and reopens on Saturday, October 14 from 5:00 CST until midnight. After that, a day or two to recuperate, and then back to the sphagnum moss and silicone molds until the end of November. 

As an additional note, many regular Triffid Ranch customers are familiar with the concept of Shirt Price on the larger enclosures: attend an event wearing a Triffid Ranch shirt, and so long as you’re wearing the shirt, the listed discount “Shirt Price” applies. Since October 13 is a Friday, and it’s a little over six months until the 2018 Texas Frightmare Weekend starts, Shirt Price discounts at the Relics show apply to anybody in a Frightmare T-shirt as well. The individual Frightmare year doesn’t matter: if it’s a Frightmare shirt, it qualifies. This isn’t authorized by or endorsed by anyone involved with Texas Frightmare Weekend: this is just a return for all of the kindnesses and considerations I’ve received from Frightmare staff, guests, and attendees over the last decade. You lot have earned it. (He said, frantically collecting caches of glassware in anticipation of next year’s Frightmare. The 2009 Frightmare was small enough that just about everything I had fit into a PT Cruiser: next year, I might have to move to a 15-foot truck to haul enough plants to the show to keep everyone happy.)

For those who can’t make it this weekend, this definitely isn’t the last gallery event of the year. It’s a little too late to get involved directly in the Ricochet 17 art event through the Arts Incubator of Richardson on October 21, but next year’s Ricochet is on the agenda. Instead, after the Blood Over Texas Horror For The Holidays show in Austin on November 19, we’ll be open all day for casual wander-arounds (and wooing dates) for Small Business Saturday on November 25. As always, the Triffid Ranch is open by appointment, and now’s the time to discuss custom enclosures in time for the holidays.

And after that? Let’s just say that everything for the first half of next year pivots on getting a special confirmation in November, but I’m not going to say anything until said confirmation comes through. When it does, though, the Triffid Ranch moves to a whole new life stage and a whole new location. Until then, you’ll just have to wait.

New Developments


Now that the gallery is open and available for commissions, it’s time to make plans for the rest of the year and the whole of 2018. Dallas has had a relatively mild summer so far as compared to the first half of the decade, but August is still the month where we all take inspiration from my animal role model, the Gila monster, and find someplace cool and dark to plot strategy. While Triffid Ranch strategy might not match Gila monster strategy, which consists of crawling to the surface to suck eggs and swallow baby bunnies whole, we’re not completely unsympathetic. Gila monster strategy pretty much summed up my entire writing career through the Eighties and Nineties.

The first part of Triffid Ranch strategy involves planning local events, both at the new gallery and throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. This starts with a lecture and presentation at Half Price Books Mesquite on July 22 from noon to 3 pm, and several new events between now and the beginning of November that aren’t nailed down yet. As always, check the Shows, Lectures, and Other Events page for schedule changes and additions, and expect some surprising venues if things work out well.

 The biggest change in strategy, though, involves making the biggest jump in show audiences the Triffid Ranch has ever done, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit scary. Last April, an impulse trip to the Deep Ellum Arts Festival was nothing short of a mental explosion: the Festival has grown a LOT since its early days in the Twentieth Century, with a selection of artists and other vendors for whom the word “incredible” was an impotent shadow. Friday night alone was one of the most vibrant outdoor shows I’ve ever attended. no doubt accented by the best festival weather one could imagine. (Yes, summers in Dallas are harsh, but the springs and autumns out here make four months of slow simmering worthwhile.) Since then, checking on the availability of visual artist applications was a weekly event, and the applications for artists, musicians, and food vendors just opened. (And did I mention that the food at the Festival was so good that you could gain ten pounds just by standing at one of the intersections and inhaling for ten minutes?) This doesn’t just mean preparing for the huge crowds at Texas Frightmare Weekend during the first weekend of May, but having to prepare even more plants and enclosures for the Festival a month earlier. Applying is no guarantee of being accepted, and nobody will know anything until November, but considering that May 2018 marks a solid decade since the first-ever Triffid Ranch show, it’s time to make the jump. Here’s hoping I don’t faceplant any harder than usual.

And just in time for early preparation for local teachers in search of something different for their classrooms, watch this space for a big announcement next week on affordable enclosure acquisition and maintenance. This won’t be exclusively for teachers: doctors, lawyers, and dentists might have a big interest in this as well. However, teachers will appreciate the maintenance advantages. Details will follow.

The Aftermath: All-Con 2017 – 4

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Have a Great Weekend

Current gallery status: we received the official moveout form this week for the existing space, and so has everyone else. We’re two weeks away from the last-ever ARTwalk on February 18, and while a couple of the galleries will remain at least until May, the majority of us are already getting packed and moved. After that, one last weekend before the official cutoff date of February 28 to move, and that’s it for the Triffid Ranch at the Galleries at Midtown. After that, the mall comes down bit by bit, and then it’s a matter of watching the new Midtown rise. As to all of that, we know exactly as much as everyone else, which is precious little, and the energy needed to ascertain the mall’s final death date is better spent on finding a new locale.

Future gallery status: everything is still tentative, but we think we have a new gallery space, with more than suitable parking, a more accessible location off Central Expressway, and more usable gallery area than the current one. (It isn’t until you’ve done so for a year or more that you realize how much an immovable counter island gets in the way of, well, everything.) We’ve already had a discussion on how the new location, wherever it may be, won’t have regular monthly ARTwalk-type events, but that’s mitigated by trying to get more shows in other galleries in the Dallas area. As much as we’ve loved the ARTwalks, they still meant that an entire weekend per month was pretty much shot as far as work on new enclosures was concerned, so quarterly openings makes much more sense for everybody. This way, we have more surprises when we do have an opening.

Show status: outside shows are problematic, if only because many of the previous science fiction convention venues are themselves in serious trouble. That said, expect a few announcements as to other venues over the rest of the year. It’s not surprising that the con circuit is imploding: this happens about every twenty years, and they start to come back after the ground has been fallow for a decade or so. This makes setting up a more permanent gallery more important, though, as well as attending more unorthodox shows outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Again, expect a few announcements.

Music: a particularly appropriate theme for tonight.

“We have such sights to show you…”

The days are much shorter. The air no longer smells like burning flint. Sundays are the perfect days to run errands, because most people are at home watching football. It’s that most wonderful time of the year, and by being in Texas, it gets to keep going until the end of the year. Sure, it’s not cold enough to justify dragging out jackets, but that also means that moongazing isn’t painful, and it’s perfect T-shirt weather. The wonderful weather also gives less of a reason to skip out on going out, and most of us have been waiting underground like Gila monsters until the summer heat breaks. Well, it’s broken, and we’re hungry.

Because of that and the general vibe of the season, things have been exceedingly busy around the Triffid Ranch. Besides a consultation meeting with the Dallas Arboretum (expect a surprise when the Children’s Adventure Garden reopens in March after the winter hiatus), it’s been work, work, work in getting ready for both upcoming shows and the impending holiday season. Combine that with still not knowing for sure about the status of the mall and its announced demolition…if someone could develop a cure for sleep, I’d really appreciate it.

Well. To begin, October 15 is the date for the next Midtown ARTwalk, and the new organizer wants everyone to know that all attendees are encouraged to show up in costume. Not a problem here: we generally treat Halloween the way Hunter S. Thompson treated New Year’s Eve. We aren’t just encouraging attendees to come out as their true selves, but we’re rewarding it. While supplies last, those showing up in appropriate attire will receive a prize, and kids are encouraged to attend as well. ARTwalk starts at 6:00 p.m., and keeps running until it’s done.

Four weeks later, the Triffid Ranch makes its first big leap: showing plants outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. I’ve heard all sorts of fascinating stories about the Blood Over Texas crew in Austin, enough to make the four-hour drive to Austin to investigate, and this year is the one to make the trip for the Horror for the Holidays bazaar and festival. It’ll be right at the end of Sarracenia and flytrap season, so this gives those wanting to work with temperate carnivores the opportunity to see what their plants will look like when they re-emerge from winter dormancy in March and April. If this works well, not only expect Triffid Ranch involvement with other Blood Over Texas events through the rest of the year, but an active push to encourage similar events and activities in the Dallas area. We have enough lovers of the macabre in this town, and it’s time to show some solidarity.

And speaking of Dallas solidarity, the word came out recently that Convergence, the first Internet-ready goth convention, runs in Dallas in 2017. As details present themselves, they’ll be mirrored here. In a way, it’s a convergence in more ways than one: the Triffid Ranch first launched the weekend of the Ybor City Convergence in 2008, so as ninth-anniversary parties are concerned, we couldn’t have picked a better one.

And further plans? Things are tentative this year, but it’s time to expand viewing hours at the main space for the holiday season. If you’re in need of gifts for friends and family that stretches the definition of “appropriate,” give a yell.

Gallery

The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 11

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The Triffid Ranch Opening and Upcoming Events

Triffid Ranch opening

It was an effort of Herculean (and some say Lovecraftian) proportions, but the Texas Triffid Ranch moved to its next stage on September 19. After a dress rehearsal that was really just an excuse for the Czarina to have a birthday party, the new space at the Gallery at Midtown opened on time, under budget, and with no drama whatsoever. Starting at 6, we finally shut down shortly after midnight, with a truly wondrous assemblage of friends, cohorts, and random passersby (including James and Kendra below, whom I still owe an incredible debt from when we all worked together a decade ago), asking questions and making observations. We made it, and we made it out alive.

Triffid Ranch Opening

The best part about the opening, of course, was noting how much further things intend to go. Shortly afterward, we received further word on the status of the mall in which everything is located, and we’re currently in the Hour That Stretches. We know for sure that the intended renovation and demolition of the mall is scheduled for sometime in 2016: as to when, we don’t know. All we can do is take advantage of this great opportunity and run with it for as long as we can. This means not only continuing with the regular Artwalk openings, but with hosting several special events between now and the end of the year.

Triffid Ranch Opening

As always, the plants are for sale and for rent, and this Nepenthes ventrata enclosure went home with James. May it give him as much pleasure as his friendship has given me over the years.

The Incredible James Bowen

For those who missed out on the opening, as mentioned, it gets more interesting from here. The official schedule for the ArtWalk is as follows:

  • October: October 17
  • November: November 21
  • December: December 19

In addition, the Triffid Ranch will be open special hours both after American Thanksgiving and before Christmas, with times to be announced. This is in addition to regularly scheduled touring shows and events, so keep an eye open for developments. In the meantime, we’ll see you at the ArtWalk on October 17, and be sure to come in costume.

Future events and current developments

Well. September already, and everything is starting to gel. Lots of new developments with the Triffid Ranch, and all of them good. Now if I could invent the 47-hour day or remove the need for sleep, things will be spiffy.

Firstly, some may have noticed the new logo, courtesy of Gallantry Web Design. This whole summer has been nothing but change, and the logo sums it all up. The next plan is to update the rest of this site: things have been quiet here for far too long.

Now to developments. The first of these involves the new Perot Museum of Nature & Science in downtown Dallas, and its First Thursday Late Night events on the first Thursday of every month. This month, the subject is “Botanicals,” which entails a lecture by yours truly in the lower auditorium. Any excuse to get out to the Perot after normal hours is a good one, and you can either come to listen to me yammering away, or come out for the screening of the equally grim and gritty Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Either way, admission to the special events is free with a regular museum admission, so use this as a opportunity to see the rest of the museum without worrying about fighting the traffic while heading home.

Otherwise, the real news is that, after two months, the space at Midtown (formerly Valley View Mall) is nearly ready, with an official opening on September 19 to coincide with September’s ArtWalk. After that, the new space is open every third Saturday, from 6 until 10, and otherwise open by appointment. More details will follow closer to the opening, but one of the big upshots is that this allows the opportunity to produce enclosures and containers too big and bulky to bring out to individual weekend shows, as well as carrying carnivores too esoteric or too specialized for beginning enthusiasts.

This isn’t to say that the shows are stopping, though. Plans for a return to regular show tours fell apart due to several potential shows collapsing, but the following three are absolutes:

  • Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience in Fort Worth: It’s been a very long time since the Triffid Ranch last traveled to Fort Worth, and it’s about time to return to the Funky Finds show the weekend of November 7. Expect a lot of new species, a lot of new enclosures, and a general experience unlike anything else you’ve ever seen at a handmade craft show. It’s good to be back.
  • All-Con in Dallas: After skipping out on the 2015 show due to scheduling issues, there’s nothing quite like coming out of winter blues in March 2016 with four days of carnivores at All-Con, now at a much superior and more central location. This show starts right about the time temperate carnivores start emerging from winter dormancy, so it’s just as much about the new blooms as it is about the rest of the plants. In addition, with the new workspace, expect to see a lot of things that simply haven’t been possible to bring out in previous years. John Belushi was right: March 2016 will come in like a lion, and go out like a salt marsh harvest mouse.
  • Texas Frightmare Weekend in Irving: Once again, this is the big one. Texas Frightmare Weekend is the show to which all others in the Dallas area should be judged, and all of the surprises from previous years will be eclipsed by the arrangements and enclosures planned for the May show. Get your tickets now, as they sell out incredibly fast these days, and keep an eye open for special Triffid Ranch promotions only seen at Frightmare.

And as one final extra, the plan is extremely tentative, but 2016 may be the year that the Triffid Ranch escapes Texas, at least for one weekend. The idea is to haul everything the weekend of August 17 to Kansas City, Missouri for MidAmeriCon II, the 74th annual WorldCon. Again, that’s the idea: while Kansas City is about an eight-hour drive from Dallas, we also have the logistics of interstate plant certifications and dealing with KC’s not inconsiderable summer heat. If it works out, though, look for the distinctive logo above in KC, and with luck, this may be the first of many traveling shows outside of Texas. We hope.

And so it begins

After nearly a year of preparation, after nearly a year of bad craziness, Friday evening is where it all comes together. May 1 marks the beginning of Texas Frightmare Weekend, the premier horror convention in the country, if not the world, and how could it be complete without a suitable selection of carnivorous plants?

For those attending, we’re still in the Made in Texas Hall in the downstairs convention area, same place we’ve been since TFW moved in 2011. However, this year, this includes both two spaces and the lovely booth assistant Nikki, as well as a lot of other surprises. The plants continue: among other joys, we’ll have multiple blooming species of triggerplant, a collection of Venus flytrap cultivars in one gigantic glass globe, and several ongoing projects that have been alluded to for the last 12 months. The extras include new promo postcards by the famed Dallas artist Larry Carey: you’ve seen the poster he designed, so for those collecting his concert posters, ask about a postcard to expand the archive.

Oh, and since Frightmare tends to attract a lot of makeup and costuming enthusiasts, here’s an additional incentive to come out and add some variety. For everyone considering a plant-related costume, come by the Triffid Ranch booth for a prize (one per attendee, while supplies last, retail value $10) specifically for celebrating floral horrors. In fact, may I make a suggestion?

Well, that sums up everything until the event starts, so I’ll see all of you at 5:00 on Friday. Take care until then.

A Summer Interlude To Break The Monotony

Yes, it’s been a long summer. Yes, it’s been a rather dull summer. Yes, it’s not going to get any better until September, but that’s to be expected. That’s how Texas summers go: we sit back and wait until things start cooling down, and that probably won’t happen until the middle of October this year. Because of this, and a lack of impending shows, one might understandably assume that it’s quiet around the Triffid Ranch. It’s not, but just pretend it is, so the surprise is greater.

Anyway, aside from the number of calls from people assuming that they can use Venus flytraps to control bedbugs (and while a longer post in further detail is necessary, let’s cut to the chase: no carnivorous plant is going to control bedbugs, even if you hold the mattress over the plant and shake it really hard), the main focus around here is on next year. Expect a lot of new plant species, including many never seen at Triffid Ranch shows before, and several interesting experiments in larger containers. Details will follow, but let’s just say that the first Triffid Ranch show of 2015 will be one you won’t want to miss.

And on that subject, that first show is Texas Frightmare Weekend, running May 1 through 3 of 2015. Six years since the first appearance at Frightmare, and this little horror convention that could is turning into quite the monster. So much so that, by way of example, I was able to buy booth space at the 2009 show about two months before the convention started. Over the last couple of years, the vendor space tended to sell out sooner and sooner. This year? Spaces were open on August 1 at 3:00 CST, and they were completely sold out five hours later. This is why I recommend buying your passes now, before they’re all gone, the fire marshal counts heads to make sure that the hotel isn’t too overloaded, and the management at DFW Airport starts kvetching about how convention attendees outnumber people actually flying in and out of Dallas. We should all have such problems, I know, but keep it in mind if you assume that tickets will be available later in the year.

In the meantime, prepare for other developments, such as a radically revamped and redesigned Web site, well in advance of TFW. The rest of 2014 is going to be extremely crazy, so hang on.

Incoming Shows and Future Press

Texas Frightmare Weekend 2013 booth
Things may have gone quiet on the blog for a while, but that isn’t for lack of trying. Between a new Day Job and lots of weather insanity, April has been one of my busiest months yet, and it’s only getting more intense. So much for taking a hiatus, much less a vacation.

New Triffid Ranch banner by Larry Carey

The fun all started back in March at All-Con 2014, when Taffeta Darling of Fangirls: Dames of the Round Table stopped by the Triffid Ranch booth to say hello, and asked “Would you be interested in an interview on Deep Ellum on Air?” I gave my usual standoffish response (“If you nail a duck’s foot down, does he waddle in circles?”), and Taffeta contacted me last weekend about this coming Sunday’s show. This may be once again breaking a promise I’ve made to myself for years about not scheduling anything the weekend before a big show, but as a fan of Taffeta’s costuming work for years, I’d be an idiot to pass it up. April 27, from 3 to 4 p.m CST, and I’ve sworn over and over that I won’t drop the F-bomb on the air more than, oh, thirty or forty times.

This, of course, is just preamble for the big show. The last Triffid Ranch show of the year, and the last show until May 2015. Texas Frightmare Weekend is less than two weeks from now as I write this, and the plan is to make that last show one that everyone will remember. Admittedly, I’ve tried doing that with every Frightmare show for the last five years, but between a whole slew of new plants and a Sarracenia pool that’s exploding with fresh blooms and fresh traps, come out to see everyone off for the hiatus.

(Incidentally, there’s a little extra involving Frightmare that, sadly, I won’t be able to attend, as much as I wish. Back in the mid-1980s, I was a regular at a local midnight showing of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead with an audience participation crowd that made a typical showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show look sick. The Dawn showings stopped in 1986, and I spent years trying to convince local theaters to give it one last revival. Finally, the Alamo Drafthouse Richardson runs a show, with George Romero in attendance, and it’s the evening before the beginning of Frightmare. Don’t let me stop you from attending, though, and if you see Kelly, the lovely and talented head of publicity at Alamo Drafthouse Richardson, please thank her for me.)

So that’s the plan. Come out to say hello at Frightmare, or just listen to me glibber and meep online. Either way, time to get back to work.

No Sleep ’til FenCon

We’re in the final hours left until September returns to hell and that most wondrous month of the year starts up. Oh, sure, there’s always that holiday at the end of the month, but right now we’re focusing on the sheer joy of stepping outside during the day and not crisping into a Free-Range Soylent Green Dorito. Air that doesn’t smell of burning flint, or even burning Manistee. Heck, by the end of this week, we might actually need jackets first thing in the morning. Summer is finally dead, and good riddance to bad rubbish.

Anyway, if things go quiet for the rest of the week, it’s because that rest of the week belongs to getting ready for the last Triffid Ranch show of the year at FenCon X this weekend. A last-minute additional table opened up today, so it’s time to go mad and bring out arrangements where I normally wouldn’t have the room. Since the Sarracenia are doing the same now that the heat broke, it’s only fair. Besides the usual plant craziness, it’s time to catch up on festivities with old friends (some of whom haven’t been out to a convention of this sort for twenty years, so this is a serious reunion for us all), as well as hanging out with friend and fellow Michiganite Tom Smith. And that’s not even mentioning everyone else in the dealer’s room.

In the meantime, back to the linen mines until Friday afternoon. The next Triffid Ranch show is next March at All-Con, so take advantage of the weather and come out for a viewing of the flora.

Upcoming Triffid Ranch shows: Anime Fest

When I first started showing plants at science fiction conventions back in 2008, I have to admit that the concept of selling carnivorous plants at FenCon was, erm, an untested quantity. In fact, as I was setting up for that first show, I had a twitch of doubt when a resident catgirl came strolling up, looked at the display, and snorted “Whoever heard of selling plants at a convention?” Thankfully, I didn’t listen to her, and I haven’t looked back since. Five years, as of this coming October, kids.

This, of course, makes a few wonder why the Triffid Ranch makes an appearance at Dallas’s Anime Fest this weekend. Well, that’s obvious. Some of my oddest and dearest friends will be out there, including a couple as fellow dealers. This year’s show is a four-day event thanks to Labor Day, so that gives the opportunity to test a few arrangements in preparation for next year’s four-day race at All-Con in March. Best of all, one of my dearest friends plans to bring his wife out there for her first-ever convention, so I get to grin “We’re your friends. We’re not like the others.” So, yeah, this should be an interesting show.

In the meantime, if you don’t hear anything for a little while, rest assured that I’m not dead. Yet. Tonight, I’m going to celebrate Shirley Manson‘s 47th birthday: if I were just three hours more premature, we’d be the same exact age.

Upcoming events: August 2013

It’s been a bit busy at the Triffid Ranch as of late, and with good reason. Typical Texas summer weather hit this week, naturally occurring the week before the biggest show of the year, meaning that experiments with water-conservation-friendly cooling systems in the greenhouse just went from “urgent” to “designing and developing solar-powered liquid nitrogen generators to keep everything from bursting into flame”. The weekend was spent working with silicone and urethane sealers, to the point where what leg hairs aren’t permanently veneered into my flesh are now the length and strength of porcupine quills, and just as dangerous to pets and furniture. I even managed to get some of the urethane into my eyebrows, and I now know the familiarity of co-workers at the Day Job to Nineties-era cult science fiction television based on the number who ask me if I’ve seen Mistah Garibaldi as I walk by. In fact, the best part of the ongoing severe drought is putting freshly painted items out into the sun and having them dry almost instantly: I’m half-tempted to try applying metal enamel to see if that would work as well.

Oh, and today is the Czarina’s birthday. Cue the musical accompaniment.

Anyway, in previous years, August was the month where the Triffid Ranch went dormant, waiting until the rains returned in September to emerge and feed once more. Our surprising cool and (relatively) wet July means that rainwater rationing in the greenhouse isn’t as extreme, and that means that a lot of plants are ready for sale and already adapted to the heat. Because of that, this August is a month of ongoing shows, all new venues, and a lot of opportunities. Who knew back in 2008, when the Triffid Ranch first started, that things would get so interesting?

With mention of shows comes the big one: the North American Reptile Breeders Conference now runs at the Arlington Convention Center twice per year, and that means that the Triffid Ranch makes an appearance this weekend, August 10 from 10:00 to 5:00 and August 11 from 11:00 to 4:00. We’re going to be in good company with lots of friends and fellows from previous NARBC shows, so be prepared to have a blast. I might even pick up a crocodile monitor while I’m there.

One weekend after, the party moves to north Carrollton. Keith Colvin of Keith’s Comics in Dallas is an old and very dear friend, and the only reason I don’t bring out plants for the kids attending his Free Comic Book Day events in May is because FCBD usually coincides with the big Texas Frightmare Weekend show. This year, Keith decided to expand his usual summertime Sidekick discount clearinghouse event into a Summercon running every weekend in August, and that includes vendors with other, related merchandise. What this means is that you can expect to see the Triffid Ranch booth at the Summercon event on August 17, for the whole day. Any excuse to stay out of the sun in August in Texas is a good one, and if you get the carnivorous plant bug, well, Dallas North Aquarium is just down Trinity Mills Road from the Sidekick store.

Finally, my own birthday comes at the end of the month: I tried to have it changed legally, but the authorities point out that “February 30” doesn’t happen anywhere near as often these days as it used to. Some people celebrate their 47th birthdays with guns, explosions, and crocodile monitors in the streets. This year, it’s time to celebrate it with a combination of all of these, by showing plants at AnimeFest in downtown Dallas on Labor Day Weekend. We’ll be out with plenty of friends and cohorts from other local shows, from noon on August 30 until 3:00 on September 2. (Yes, it’s a four-day convention, much like next year’s All-Con a little over six months from then. Don’t let it scare you.) In between those times, it’s open season.

Oh, and with the mention of Texas Frightmare Weekend earlier, next May marks the fifth anniversary of the Triffid Ranch’s first show at Frightmare, and both guest announcements and advance tickets both saw release last Sunday. One of these days, I’ll explain exactly how The Creature From The Black Lagoon ties into my fascination with carnivorous plants, but both the Czarina and I have very good reason to look forward to TFW 2014. We’re definitely appearing as vendors, and it’s time for even more surprises.

After August, things go relatively quiet as far as Triffid Ranch shows are concerned, with the big highlight being the fifth anniversary show and party at FenCon in Addison in October. However, it’s time to start moving further afield through Texas, and the number of Houstonians who came by the booth at Texas Frightmare Weekend demonstrated a need for a touring plant show through the southern portion of the state. Details follow as I get them, but a trip to a Houston or Galveston show in October might be a necessity. And so it goes.

Upcoming Shows: the June 2013 edition

Five years ago, the Texas Triffid Ranch started out as little more than a hobby with delusions of grandeur, with a stock comprised of cuttings and offshoots from my own collection of carnivorous plants. This year has already seen more shows than in the Triffid Ranch’s first two years, and the fourth quarter of 2013 is going to be a blowout. In the meantime, not counting tentative shows or definite shows where entry isn’t possible right now, here’s the schedule so far:

  • The remainder of June and July are going to be show-free at the moment, partially because of the heat, but things start moving in August. That begins the weekend of August 10 and 11, when the Triffid Ranch makes its first appearance at the Arlington NARBC reptile and amphibian show in the shadow of Cowboys Stadium. Expect lots of good craziness with other vendors (several of whom are old friends), a tremendous variety of reptiles, enclosures, and supplies, and one carnivorous plant nursery trying to keep up.
  • For the last five years, I’ve received requests about two shows in the Dallas area. One is beyond impractical, for a multitude of reasons. The other, though, was an entertaining notion. Several fellow vendors at other shows kept nuhdzing me about it. “Lots of people out there. They’re fun folks. You really need to be out there!” This year, I listened to them, which is why Labor Day weekend marks the first appearance of the Triffid Ranch at Anime Fest in downtown Dallas. Among other things, this marks the first Triffid Ranch four-day event, which should act as a good gauge for next year’s four-day All-Con in March. Besides, where else should I spend a birthday weekend?
  • And then there’s the big one. The event that started it all, five years ago. Specifically, FenCon X in Addison. Not only will this be a revelation as far as plants and arrangements are concerned, but this year’s show features several arrangements normally too big to show. Specifically, one big one is going to be a charity sale for the Arlington Archosaur Site, on behalf of a friend who sadly won’t be at FenCon to give me grief.

Believe it or not, this isn’t the end of things. Obviously, there’s the big Funky Finds Experience show in Fort Worth in November, as well as the possibility of another show at the end of the month. In addition, after having long, fascinating conversations with people coming up to Dallas for particular events, it’s time to consider events in Houston and Galveston. As always, details will follow.

New Triffid Ranch show: NARBC Arlington

Ten years ago, when I picked up my first batch of carnivorous plants from a local Home Depot, I had no idea how far this was going to go. Even five years ago, when I first started doing lectures and showing plants, I had no clue. Well, it keeps getting better, as the Texas Triffid Ranch joins the list of esteemed vendors at this August’s North American Reptile Breeders Conference show in Arlington, Texas. As a longtime attendee of the NARBC Arlington shows, you can imagine the thrill of being on the other side of the register for the first time. Heck, this time, I might even work out a trade for a crocodile monitor.

No Sleep ’til All-Con

All-Con

Apologies for the radio silence, but it’s show season, and show season means skipping out on extraneous distractions such as sleep or sanity. This weekend, the event du jour is All-Con 2013, located once again in the scenic Crown Plaza Hotel in Addison, Texas. In addition to the standard scene-chewing and name-dropping at the main table, I hope everyone attending All-Con stops by to catch the carnivorous plant lecture on Saturday night at 8:00 p.m.. In the meantime, catch you on the farside.

In related news, for about fifteen minutes, it looked as if the Triffid Ranch might be a vendor at LoneStarCon 3 in San Antonio this Labor Day weekend after all, after hearing about a major change in management at the convention. The booth rates were very good for the Czarina and myself, any excuse to visit San Antonio is a good one, and it would have been a great opportunity to say hello to old friends from my writing days, including Mark Finn, Pat Cadigan, and Guest of Honor Ellen Datlow. Sadly, while the booth rates were reasonable, the additional requirement that all vendors and helpers pay for a attending membership ($200 per head, by the way) in addition to booth fees means that this immediately turned into a show that could in no way be profitable once you tacked on transportation, accomodation, and incidental costs for the trip to and from San Antonio. And so it goes: if an old friend’s idea of putting out a bid for a Dallas/Fort Worth WorldCon goes through, though, I’m there.

Upcoming Shows: ConDFW XII

ConDFW

And speaking of upcoming shows, for years, I held off on having any Triffid Ranch shows before the end of March for weather reasons. Anybody who ever spent the second half of winter in North Texas understands the situation. Last year, for instance, the beginning of February was warm, sunny, and cheery, as someone who never lived here would expect would be the default weather condition. Exactly one year before that, the whole area was locked in a week-long ice storm that shut down everything. That ice storm was so big that it nearly canceled the Super Bowl at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. The year before that? The heaviest snowfall in Dallas history, where a full foot of snow took out power over half of the city and gave the Czarina the chance to make her first snow sculptures.

With the possibility of the North Texas equivalent of being buried alive in a snowdrift, a February or March show became a risk. Most if not all of the larger temperate carnivorous plants are still locked in winter dormancy, and won’t come out until at least St. Patrick’s Day. Tropical carnivores tend to fuss and drop dead when exposed to a few hours of sub-freezing temperatures, such as encountered when Dallas’s Central Expressway becomes a luge track. Hence, waiting until the likelihood of a last-minute snowstorm recedes in the calendar makes a lot of sense.

When asking “So what changed your mind?”, it’s easy to say that last year’s experiences with ConDFW encouraged another run. I might also mention that ConDFW XII runs this year in a much superior hotel, where the dealer’s space is MUCH more accessible. That’s not the real reason. The real reason has everything to do with ConDFW’s convention chair, Amie Spengler.

See, back in early 1999, at the height of my writing days, I received an invitation to be a guest at AggieCon, the long-running science fiction convention run by and at Texas A&M University. The details of that three-day weekend are long and sordid (let’s just say that being trapped on a panel with Bruce Sterling mooing “It’s on the Viridian List! Have I mentioned the Viridian List?” over and over some 50 times in 60 minutes is something that even Dick Cheney would find offensive), but what stood out was the professionalism of the student volunteer staff. Those kids were fast, they were efficient, and most of all, they were on the ball. Having survived many a convention in those days where programming and even hotel spaces were things to be fussed about another day (my favorite was the convention in Oregon with some four different event schedules for guests and attendees, and none of them synched), you have no idea how much fun it was to watch this in action.

Back then, Amie was just a volunteer. Now, she’s the convention chair. Go buy her a drink at the show, because she and the rest of the ConDFW staff earned one. See you there?

Upcoming Triffid Ranch Shows: 2013 so far

Hm. For once, January seems to be racing to its conclusion, instead of the usual post-holiday drag. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, under most circumstances, but the first Triffid Ranch show of the new year starts exactly four weeks from today. Knowing me, I’ll be glad for any available extra time between now and then. So shall we look at what 2013 offers?

Okay, to start out, I’m not going to say anything further until it’s a sure thing, but I may –MAY– have some very good news for those who can’t get to the usual Triffid Ranch shows and want a permanent locale to visit. Again, nothing is confirmed, and the whole dream could turn back into pumpkins and mice. However, in two weeks or so, I should be able to say something. Until them, schtum.

(And while the Triffid Ranch won’t be there, I’d be an absolute monster if I didn’t mention that ZestFest 2013 runs at the Irving Convention Center on January 25 through the 27th, and I’m in desperate need of refills from the crew at Defcon Sauces. I’ll also point out that representatives from the Chile Pepper Institute should be out there as well, so look at it as a botanical expedition. That is, when you’re not trying samples of some of the best spicy food to be found in the Southwest, and that’s saying something.)

On that note, the first Triffid Ranch show is especially auspicious, because a lot has changed with ConDFW since its beginnings during my writing days. It already combined a serious crowd with a mellow style, and that improved considerably this year with its relocation to a new, more convention-convenient hotel. All of the temperate carnivores (flytraps, Sarracenia pitcher plants, and many sundews and butterworts) will still be in winter dormancy, and with good reason, considering our tendency toward week-long ice storms before things warm up in March. However, this means more opportunities with other plants, and I suspect everyone will be pleasantly surprised with the varieties offered this year.

Three weeks after that, things start getting crazy. March 8-10 is All-Con 2013, at the same hotel as ConDFW in Addison, Texas, and it’s probably going to be a madhouse. That, incidentally, is partly due to the guest list addition of Sylvester McCoy, and partly due to the secret being out on the convention in general. This show is unlike any other in the Southwest, and as such, makes it a special honor to be invited back as a vendor.

Several gaps lie in the year’s schedule which may be filled with other shows, and details will follow.The absolute, though, is that Texas Frightmare Weekend is a show that I’d attend after an appendectomy, and I can’t speak more highly of it than that. In fact, I’d probably ask the doctor to operate in the dealer’s room, just so the beginning theatrical makeup artists could take notes. 2013 marks the fifth Triffid Ranch show at Frightmare, and it just keeps getting better every year. This is partly due to the exemplary new locale at DFW Airport, with a hotel that honestly likes the crew of friendly loons that shows up every year.

Again, more gaps, but the last confirmed show for 2013 so far is our first show: FenCon. We’re back to Addison for this one, but the great news is that FenCon now opens on October 4 instead of the middle of September. And why is this great news? If you’ve ever been in Texas in October, this is about the time of year when the outside temperatures start to drop from the summer blast forge, so it’s friendlier to out-of-town visitors. It’s also friendlier to the plants, with many waking up from the seemingly never-ending summer and displaying their best colors and trap sizes. Five years ago, two dear friends inadvertently convinced me to take a risk on showing plants at a science fiction convention by getting a table at FenCon, and I’ll never be able to thank them for the initiative. This one, six weeks after the big LoneStarCon III in San Antonio? Yeah, this one will be one to remember.

Once more, gaps and more news. Keep an eye open for further developments, and I’ll see you at the next show.